Fleet telematics and integrated solutions

Fleet telematics and integrated solutions

The fleet telematics industry remains fractured. Vehicle OEMs, like Freightliner, are entering the telematics arena with navigation and built-in dashboard solutions. Traditional TSPs, meanwhile, are bundling services in hopes of finding a sweet spot to maintain their standing in the industry. Tablets and smartphones are still the industry’s next big thing, while PNG manufacturers, which have significant market share, have been reading about their products’ eventual obsolescence for years.

With the widespread adoption of open source platforms still far off, end users seeking integrated solutions can be forgiven for thinking that the telematics industry is a volatile place. Add to this the enormous challenges of integrating fleets globally, where regional regulations and language barriers are constant headaches, and many managers are forced to cobble together piecemeal solutions that don’t integrate well fleet-wide.

Fortunately, there have been positive signs from component manufacturers that integration is on the way. Telit, a component manufacturer in the machine-to-machine (M2M) space, is making integration a priority. (For more on M2M, see Industry insight: Telematics and machine-to-machine communications.)

Integration across platforms

Telit provides wireless module technology worldwide to enable M2M communications. Integration across platforms and regions is a clear priority for any company focusing on M2M, but Telit has institutionalized its vision of integration. At the end of 2011, Telit adopted a new organizational model that did away with its regional sales approach in favor of a global structure targeting a few strategic verticals. In essence, Telit wants to be the global component provider in its M2M niche, a strategy it has pursued through targeted acquisitions and by developing product families that are highly portable within a given vertical.

“Besides talking to its direct customers,” says Cyril Zeller, senior sales director in Telit’s Global Telematics Segment, “Telit has regular contacts with leading end users in the industry in order to understand market trends and expectations clearly and adjust our products roadmap accordingly.” 

Telit’s xx910 module family, for example, is an attempt to satisfy several cellular protocols in one board. Regional differences in cellular protocols (CDMA vs GPRS) and migration from 2G to 3G and eventually 4G have created a dilemma for TSPs and device manufacturers: Develop separate products for each region or constrain your brand to a fixed set of protocols? Telit offers a compromise.

All protocols can be accounted for with modules that have pin-to-pin compatible footprints. TSPs and device manufacturers, using one family of modules, can offer end-users a consistent interface experience and global connectivity, regardless of regional variance.

Global positioning systems

The choice of global positioning systems is another area where device manufacturers and TSPs have traditionally been forced to draw a line. American GPS has long been the navigation system of choice in the US. Much of Europe, which is awaiting implementation of its forthcoming Galileo system, also uses the American GPS system.

But Russia’s revamped global positioning system, GLONASS, has come of age. Instead of forcing device manufacturers to choose between the systems, intelligent component manufacturers are pushing the advantages of using receivers that integrate both systems.

“Two drivers exist today for a GPS plus GLONASS module adoption,” says Zeller. First, GLONASS is mandatory in Russia, and therefore mandatory for any fleets operating within the federation. Second, the dual-constellation module is far more accurate in real-world applications.

Telit began experimenting with GLONASS technology soon after the Russian government announced that the system was fully operational at the end of 2011. Using Los Angeles and London to test the system’s accuracy from disparate points on the globe, Telit researchers found that a combination of GPS and GLONASS noticeably improves positioning accuracy, especially in city environments where tall buildings make a four-satellite fix unlikely using one system alone. Telit parlayed these tests into its SL869 modules, which are dual-constellation.

“The choice is not between GPS and Glonass,” says Zeller, “but between GPS only or GPS plus GLONASS. The GPS constellation today has 32 satellites under operation, and GLONASS has 23. So with a multi-constellation module you are positioning yourself using 55 satellites instead of only 32.” (For more on telematics in Russia, see Emerging Telematics Opportunities in Russia.)

Greg Nichols is a regular contributor to TU.

For more on fleets, see Industry insight: Fleet telematics.

For the latest in fleet telematics, check out Telematics Detroit 2013 on June 5-6.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Insurance Telematics Europe 2013 on May 7-8 in London, Data Business for Connected Vehicles Japan 2013 on May 15-16 in Tokyo, Content & Apps for Automotive Europe 2013 on June 18-19 in Munich, Insurance Telematics USA 2013 on September 4-5 in Chicago, Telematics Russia 2013 on September 9-10 in Moscow, Telematics LATAM 2013 in September in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Telematics Japan 2013 on October 8-10 in Tokyo and Telematics Munich 2013 on November 11-12.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: In-Vehicle Smartphone Integration Report, Human Machine Interface Technologies and Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *